New protests broke out in Rochester, New York, on Sept. 2 as a result of another case involving police brutality that led to the death of 41-year-old Daniel Prude, a Black man, several media outlets reported. Mayor Lovely Warren announced the next day that she had suspended seven officers while an investigation is under way.
Prude’s brother Joseph held a news conference outside of Rochester City Hall on Sept. 2, where he questioned the police’s actions, after the release of body cam videos from March that showed police placing a hood over his brother’s head and handcuffing him, face down on a below-freezing snowy day, when he was completely naked.
“How are you sitting here with your knee in my brother’s damn back, when he’s defenseless?” Joseph Prude demanded in his news conference, posted by the Democrat & Chronicle’s Will Cleveland via Twitter. “He’s got on no damn clothes. Let’s keep it real. If you want to know the truth, the video footage is going to show the truth. And these people that’s steady trying to cover this up, let’s stop this.”
The incident, which Joseph Prude called a lynching, began on March 23 after he called 911 for help with his brother, who was having a mental health crisis. Instead of receiving help, Daniel Prude ultimately “died of asphyxiation after a group of police officers put a hood over his head, then pressed his face into the pavement for two minutes,” The Associated Press reported. Prude died seven days after the police encounter on March 30, when he was taken off life support. The medical examiner confirmed Prude’s cause of death as “homicide.” (See the complete autopsy report here.)
“I placed the phone call for my brother to get help, not for my brother to get lynched,” Joseph Prude told Rochester First. “When I say get lynched, that was full-fledged, murder, cold-blooded—nothing other than cold-blooded murder. The man is defenseless, naked on the ground, cuffed up already. I mean come on, how many brothers got to die for society to understand that this needs to stop? You killed a defenseless Black man, a father’s son, a brother’s brother, a nephew’s uncle.”
Now, with the family and local residents calling for accountability, the city’s Mayor Lovely Warren (D-N.Y) and police chief La’Ron Singletary (both of whom are Black) announced Sept. 2 that the New York State Attorney General’s office was investigating. In the video below, Singletary explains why the public just learned of Prude’s death.
“Unfortunately, it has taken some time, and I sympathize with the family because I too when I saw the video, was very disturbed,” Warren said at a news conference. “In this particular instance, this is not within our control. It’s not within our control fairly, because the executive order outlines that this case has to be handled by the Attorney General’s office.”
Also unfortunate is that while the police who killed Prude still have jobs, officers have arrested protesters who hit the streets to demand justice for him. As Prude’s highly upsetting video continues to make its rounds across social media, advocates are tweeting their anger and pushing his story out:
The officers that killed Daniel Prude were never disciplined and remain on active duty. The Rochester DA must open an investigation into what happened that night.— NYCLU (@NYCLU) September 2, 2020
It’s clear that the police can’t be trusted to safely meet the needs of Black people. Our statement: pic.twitter.com/pBvQaCDIh6
NEWS: In March, Joe Prude called the police for help. His brother, Daniel, was acting strangely. Instead, video shows Rochester police handcuffing him, mocking him, and kneeling on his back while pushing his face into the ground until he stops breathing. https://t.co/VHerJ27Di7— The Appeal (@theappeal) September 2, 2020
Daniel Prude, a Black man, was pinned to the ground by NY police.— Chip Franklin (@chipfranklin) September 2, 2020
He died 2 months before George Floyd.
Monroe County Medical Examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide caused by “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint.”
Let’s make this a bigger story.
A man was murdered in Rochester NY by RPD. The officers are still on the force. Mayor Lovely knew, Chief Singletary knew, Mike Mazzeo knew. They all told us that we don’t have these problems in Rochester. Ask Daniel’s Prude family if we have these problems, ask his sister.— Danielle Ponder (@danielleponder1) September 2, 2020
This story was originally posted at Colorlines. It has been edited for YES! Media and appears here with permission.
N. Jamiyla Chisholm writes about arts and culture for the daily racial justice news website Colorlines. She is also an editorial consultant who leads creative web content at Barnard College.